Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

The Sixth Global Extinction – We are Now Entering it …

History shows us that over millions of years the world has been through several eras of mass extinction where countless plants and animals have vanished forever.

Most of this has been a result of global climate changes deriving from cataclysmic events.

However in the last 200+ years modern man has engendered one of the most dramatic impacts in recent Earth time, and by the midst of the 21st century yet another mass extinction is predicted to prevail. This one being human-caused.

In the history of life on Earth, there have been five mass extinction episodes in which large numbers of species vanished within a relatively short period of time.

All mass extinctions have been caused by natural catastrophes, such as the impact of meteorites.

Today we are witnessing the beginning of an extinction era unparalleled since the demise of the Dinosaurs some 65 million years ago when a giant asteroid – or comet – plummeted to Earth.

We have now entered the 21st century in an alarming and disturbing manner as much of life on Earth is under siege from the careless and ignorant impacts of modern society.

In our blatant disregard for all living creatures, humans over the past few centuries have essentially flailed a wrecking ball across virtually all parts of the planet’s biosphere by fouling the land, water and atmosphere through our insatiable desire to cultivate the soil, and consume or exploit where possible its finite resources.

There is no greater example of this than the colonisation of Australia …

In just over two centuries since European settlement we have rapaciously degraded this continent, mutilated its forest cover, contaminated its land and waterways, and driven more mammal species to extinction than anywhere else on the globe in such a short time period.

In Tasmania alone, we have seen the extinction of the Tasmanian and King Island Emus, the probable demise of the Thylacine, whilst many other vertebrates such as the Tasmanian Devil, Orange-bellied Parrot, Swift Parrot, King island Scrub Tit, and the Spotted Handfish are facing a tenacious battle to retain their sustainable populations.

The noted creatures above are just a few in a long list of Tasmania’s endangered plants and animals:

• 34 vertebrates have an endangered status.

• 33 invertebrates have an endangered status.

• More than 600 Animals and Plants are listed on schedules of Tasmanian Threatened Species list 1995.

These vary from, rare, vulnerable, endangered to critically endangered.

World Extinction rates

A normal rate (background rate) of species extinction has been derived from a thorough analysis of thousands of mammal fossil records dating back the last two million years. Based on this it is expected we lose two species for every 10,000 species present over a period of 100 years. For example, if there are 40,000 species, we would expect to see eight extinctions in a century. Any rate much higher than that would indicate a mass extinction.

image

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 447 species worldwide have become extinct in the past 100 years. Species loss across the planet seems to be ascending at an exponential rate, and the next 2-3 decades is predicted to be catastrophic, particularly for mammals, birds, amphibians and fish as many global ecosystems collapse through ongoing land clearance, over-fishing, drought, water, atmospheric pollution and human poaching.

Without question all species have an important role in the ongoing ecological management of our ecosystems. They are integral to the web of life that essentially sustains human existence. For each species that is lost, the human race becomes poorer both physically and spiritually. Each loss makes our lives, and the relative ecosystem less balanced, which leads us towards a marginal subsistence and ultimately void of harmony with the earth.

Remediation of future species loss can only occur if we reduce our human footprint on earth through decreasing our population, dramatically reducing our atmospheric saturation of Co2 and methane, sustain our natural resources, cease land clearing and eliminate pollution to our water sources and soil.

Extreme optimists may believe there is still time to prevent the sixth mass extinction created by us, knowing that we humans the only species who are capable of saving all endangered creatures.

It is a paradox that confronts us urgently because saving them is the only way to save humanity.

*Ted Mead is a staunch exponent of primeval forests and wilderness, and has been involved in direct actions since migrating to Tasmania over 35 years ago. In the process, Ted has been arrested, bailed, dragged through the courts, fined, and ultimately condemned with criminal convictions for his defence of the wild country he cherishes. While Ted believes the days of on-ground protesting are all but over, he is convinced that past direct actions by valiant protesters were catalysts for the vast nature reserves that exist throughout Tasmania today.

• Greg James in Comments: Jack, the first practical attempt at containment must be the reduction of the human population and thus reduce the effects of our ‘footprint’. Without that start and then a simplification of the remaining humans needs there is only catastrophe waiting. Moral questions and production need to change, are we entitled to pets that survive on a high protein diet, which in turn is emptying the oceans? Do we just carry on and hope that if we do not change our behaviour and needs, then it’s ok to indulge in the death of many species. The dissonance we have from the effects and demands of seven billion people on the water supply and the waste they produce is inevitably catastrophic. A utopian world with little effect on human nature is about 200 million people according to the UN. That requires the death of 97% of the population and their pets.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. john hayward

    September 15, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Tas continues to spearhead the threatened species, if not the problem.

    On 15 November The Meander Valley Council will meet to consider the revocation of rates reductions on land donated to conservation covenants.

    Tasmania is already distinguished by its paucity of legal protection for private land environments.

    The revocation is reportedly being spearheaded by a councillor who is also a logging company proprietor, which would contravene the Local Government Act.

    It is cheering to think that conflict of interest conduct, if little else, is in no danger of extinction in Tasmania.

    John Hayward

  2. Ted Mead

    September 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    #16

    It doesn’t matter how many roads, firebreaks, fuel reduction burns that are undertaken. Broad scale wildlife will happen when the catastrophic conditions prevail. History shows us that.

    With the present rate of climate change, the once in a hundred year fires are probably likely to be every few decades now.

    This is greatest threat to marginalising species through our forests. Logging primitive forest simply contributes to the process.

  3. Mark Poynter

    September 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    #14 Ted

    I can’t give a % but a significant number, including regrowth from the 1983 bushfires (33 y.o.). In fact as I understand it, records in 30 year old regrowth are increasing in number faster than in other forest structures.

    The preconception that LBP is restricted only to old growth forests is being proven to be incorrect, and it has even been found nesting in bark accumulations in tree forks rather than in tree hollows.

    Bear in mind also that LBP also naturally occurs in snow gum woodlands and swampy woodlands (although most of them have been cleared for farming) where there are typically few large trees.

    #15 All too often on forums like these, the proferred solution is simply to exclude humans from huge swathes of the landscape based on unwarranted demonising of activities such as timber production. Yet, that is not a solution at all if the major threatening process is severe fire – in fact closing roads and removing people only makes fire management more difficult and exacerbates the problem.

  4. Kim Peart

    September 15, 2016 at 11:54 am

    The problem is known and deeply documented, so I wonder what the engineering shape of the bridge is, that will lead from the problem to a working solution.

    All who love the problem seem to be fighting to the death to maintain the problem and keep all others from crossing the bridge to a working solution.

    What is the problem with a working solution?

  5. Ted Mead

    September 14, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    #13 Well Mark – That maybe the case that these mammals are less threatened than first announced.

    However there is the attritional process of loss of habit through climate change, land-clearance, wildfire and of course logging.

    As you may have guessed that I appose logging of primeval natural forests and transitional forest types. I view the loss of such habitats as unnecessary, and a threat to forest biodiversity.

    Can you quote what percentage of the LBP population is found in regenerated forest? I suspect a very small percentage!!!!!!

  6. Mark Poynter

    September 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    #8 Ted

    “…. however Forestry threats to the Leadbeater’s Possum and the Long-nosed Potoroo in Victoria is a seriously concerning issue …”

    I realise that you are getting this from media reporting that simply repeats what its told by environmental activists (and in the case of LBP a supportive academic clique), but the reality is far different.

    LBP has suffered from widespread bushfires stretching back 90-years which has limited the amount of suitable habitat. Timber production is limited to only 30% of the possums preferred forest type, and only harvests areas that are not suitable habitat at present. So, a majority of the preferred forest types have never been logged and is now reserved and free to grow on to become suitable habitat.

    Also, the animal is proving to be far more resilient than expected by environmentalists and their academic associates (what a surprise!). While some of them were claiming only 500 were left, a revised survey approach has found 280 new colonies in just the past 18-months!

    The Long-footed Potoroo (not long nosed) is also a furphy. It was first found in 1980 virtually outside the back door of East Gippsland’s Bellbird Hotel in dense post-harvesting coastal forest regrowth 30 – 40 years old. As this was the only record at that time it was immediately given a high conservation status listing.

    Since then it has been found to be widespread from the coast to the mountains throughout Gippsland and SE NSW, but as I understand it still retains the same conservation status listing (seems like its as hard to get off that list as it is to get out of the Australian cricket team). One local environmental group uses it in their anti-logging campaigns … and I guess this is what you are relying for evidence of its vulnerability.

  7. Kim Peart

    September 9, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Re: 11 ~ Then North Korea test a nuclear weapon.

    I see little hope, even for survivalists, with a focus on Earth alone, where the carbon crisis may simply tip the planet toward a dead Earth, most likely pre-empted by nuclear madness as nations go crazy with environmental crisis.

    Often in human history wars happen when there is environmental crisis, and on a planet bristling with clear weapons, that is a deadly prospect.

    Isn’t the civil war in Syria in part driven by environmental crisis, with a prolonged drought.

    Now Russia and America see the wisdom of joint bombing raids for peace. Killing for peace. Is that the name of the game?

    Have you considered, I mean, have you really investigated the potential for human civilization if we secure a sustainable industrial presence beyond earth?

    Maybe not, if there is a cast iron religious commitment to Earth alone.

    Like the carbon energy monopoly, that see the threat to their business model with free energy from the Sun harvested in space, other options are inconvenient.

    If survival matters, then shouldn’t every possibility for survival be on the table?

    I fear that too many are lulled into inaction by the song of carbon energy propaganda, or are so in love with the Earth, they would kill it rather than investigate any alternative.

    What kind of love is that?

  8. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 9, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Ted, you have put your finger on the pulse and found it to be racing unsustainably.

    I was on the organizing committee for the ‘Radical Ecology’ conference back in 1975, and I was hearing pretty similar stuff then. Remember poor old Erlich et al and their book, ‘The Limits to Growth’.

    The Malthusian sunset has long been delayable, but each time it has been delayed, resources that might one day save us have been used up. The Green revolution has mined out much of the underground water resource that made it possible, and the world population rise it also facilitated, has doubled.

    Desalinators may come into the breach and yes new technology powered by renewable energy may keep things going for a bit longer, but in the end, nature’s answer to species that are too successful is always the same; a severe cutback.

    History does not ring a bell when it is about to pull the plug on an era. The circumstances of the demise of indulgence capitalism are as yet unknowable. We can only guess that it is not too far away.

    The end of modern history will be likely as messy and swift as its rise. Sustainable practice will likely become the new watchword, as indulgence capitalism becomes capitalism lite, or not even capitalism at all.

    And it won’t be just indulgence capitalism that gets the shove, but much of the ideological material it made possible and plausible.

    Social libertarianism will be likely as on the nose as its free market corporate master, as what remains of human society makes the very tough transition to a permanent ecological siege economy and much tighter social regulation.

    We are looking down the barrel of a period where the main capital will be social and existential; the stuff that cannot be confiscated or destroyed by heavy losses.

    It won’t be exactly a barrel of laughs, but some of us will adapt and move on….And it won’t be all bad

  9. Kim Peart

    September 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Concerning the paradox raised in the article ~ “that confronts us urgently because saving them is the only way to save humanity.”

    To “save humanity” we need to consider all problems, overlapping in a matrix, where all need to be solved or none may be solved.

    In seeking a working solution to the matrix of problems we face, I found myself in undocumented territory, so I was either wrong, or I was finding something new.

    I have written this out separately, for anyone who may be interested ~
    https://stargategrid.forumchitchat.com/post/what-does-nature-want-8237542?pid=1293350694#post1293350694

    To continue in the direction we are going is going to make all problems worse, but there is no sign that our direction will change, or change enough to deliver working solutions.

    A radically different direction is needed, along with gaining a clearer understanding of the root causes of the problems we must solve.

    Many people want simple solutions and that is fine, if they work.

    Simple solutions have not worked to date.

    Kim Peart

  10. mike seabrook

    September 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    did anyone count the $50 million tassie fox

  11. Ted Mead

    September 8, 2016 at 4:18 am

    #4 Jack

    As you probably know – The demise of species, particularly mammals, has been far more prominent on the mainland than in Tas.

    According to the EPBC Act list of threatened fauna, 54 mammals, birds, frogs and other animals are extinct, and one fish is extinct in the wild.

    Ever since colonization the axe has been swung all across the arable lands in the country.
    The exact loss of floral species would be unknown considering there were probably very little studies done in many areas that were being cleared for urbanization or agricultural development.

    Invasive exotic plants and different fire regimes may have also contributed to extinction re – the matrix of flora and biota. Changed fire patterns over the 200 years is poorly documented, though recent scientific studies has shown that too frequent of burning in the top end has not helped the threatened species populations such as the Northern Quoll.

    Mammals have been the main victims. The introduction of the fox, cat, rabbit and exotic hoofed animals have created havoc on the smaller creatures, particularly the marsupials.

    Australia has lost 29 mammals since European colonisation, and feral predators are implicated in 28 of these extinctions. Australia is also in the top 10 countries for endangered and threatened species with 909 species categorised as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

    Fox and exotic cats alone have and continue to push more species to the brink of extinction, whilst rabbits decimated food supplies for many smaller creatures. If Foxes ever gained a foothold in Tasmania we can rest assure there will be more mammalian species lost.

    Hoofed animals, particularly the Dromedary have been present throughout the arid regions of Australia for 150 years. Their heavy imprint having a notable effect on burrowing animals and localised flora. Central Australia, in 2008, had an estimated 1 million Camels running wild.

    The impacts of the introduced Dingo on the mammal populations is not widely know, but probably was the cause of the Thylacine to disappear across its wide-spread range as it would have been in competition with the same food sources. Conversely Dingos have an impact on fox populations, as there is never both species within the same region throughout arid Australia.

    Poisoning through baiting using 1080 raises a few questions about species population reductions.

    Prolonged periods of drought and unreliable rainfall over the next 30 years is predicted to have a dramatic effect on habitats. I recall reading through many journals of Australia’s desert
    explorers dating back more than 150 years ago. Their description of the land in Central Australia is glaring different as they described many rich water sources and wildlife.

    You will pleased to know that the finger hasn’t been pointed at Forestry too much as far as extinction goes, however Forestry threats to the Leadbeater’s Possum and the Long-nosed Potoroo in Victoria is a seriously concerning issue. FT’s intent on logging crucial habitat for the Wielangta Stag-Beetle, the Swift Parrot and the Wedge-tailed Eagle clearly shows the industry is out of touch, and continues to push the boundaries, and species towards marginalization, and is one of the reasons why the shouldn’t get FSC. But as they say ‘money can buy you anything’

    The effects of climate change, through the rapid increase of temperatures and C02 acidity levels is going to push many species of flora and fauna beyond their ability to adapt. In general across the globe, the largest of the mammals will be the most notable, though Australia lost its mega fauna at least 20,000 years ago due to climate changes and hunting.

    As for your question regarding remediation? Well probably the only hope for our endangered animals is for Humans become extinct first, as it is unlikely we are going to reduce our populations, change our carbon footprint, or rethink our ethics regarding resource usage, land clearance, and ultimately the respect for all living things!!!!

    To sum it up – “Things Look Crook in Tullarook”

  12. Greg James

    September 8, 2016 at 3:25 am

    Jack, the first practical attempt at containment must be the reduction of the human population and thus reduce the effects of our ‘footprint’. Without that start and then a simplification of the remaining humans needs there is only catastrophe waiting. Moral questions and production need to change, are we entitled to pets that survive on a high protein diet, which in turn is emptying the oceans? Do we just carry on and hope that if we do not change our behaviour and needs, then it’s ok to indulge in the death of many species.
    The dissonance we have from the effects and demands of seven billion people on the water supply and the waste they produce is inevitably catastrophic. A utopian world with little effect on human nature is about 200 million people according to the UN. That requires the death of 97% of the population and their pets.

  13. O'Brien

    September 8, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Well… yes, what do you expect? These rotten little green tree hugging feathered disease vectors have absolutely no business sticking their beaks into conservation policy. They’re lucky to have had a free ride thus far! The little chartreuse two legged four lunged freaks should be forced to display their valid National Parks pass once across Bass Straight, thats $100K cash up front in the pocket, just for starters. Why the heck should these blow-ins get free board and lodging in our trees? Squeeze every penny from these stinking avians. Frickin free-loading mainlanders. In any functioning society this malachite menace would be 1080’d, pureed, snap frozen and jet freighted to Macau’s top Yum Cha joints. Some Red Chinese Communist PLA generals will fork over a kings ransom for such a rare delicacy and forget all about it tomorrow. Yes siree folks take my word for it, quit screwing around with wood-chips, pulp mills, biomass furnaces, free range euro-salmon farms, concrete canal estates and white shoes. The smart money is flocking to genetically engineered tasty wildlife exports. Quoll burgers alone could more than cover Tassie’s annual parliamentary and DPIPWE food and grog bills combined. Not to mention the untapped resource of Spotted Hand-fish fascinators for the looming spring racing carnival/Melbourne cup. For Pete’s sake these bottom feeders contribute absolutely nothing lazing about Ralph’s Bay, bums.

    If nothing else the increasingly obvious and isolated elements of our so-called public service from state development to DPIPWE not forgetting our cheaply bought and paid for elected representatives, union phonies and their hangers on can all be relied upon to profit handsomely. When they aren’t scheming/scamming an imagined or real vulpine menace (does it even matter now?), incinerating every damned tree remaining, threatening, menacing, lying, turning a blind eye or generally feathering their own nests with our money.

  14. spikey

    September 8, 2016 at 12:15 am

    great article ted
    i’ve been reading an old opb report i scored from a bookshop
    it highlighted many of the main problems and restorative solutions
    the authors names were unfamiliar to me

    i’m gladdened to see some work in the pipeline creating artificial nesting hollows
    i’m saddened worlds best conjob doesn’t grow more apt trees and leave habitat trees standing
    and stop this insane clearfelling and high intensity burning, blatantly unsustainably stupid
    fertile ash beds my pert oft fondled arse
    if you believe that one, you likely hate refugees for throwing kids overboard
    the cowboys passing off as foresters
    are clearly not fit for the custodial role
    though you certainly may suggest there is a custodial role for them
    they likely do a good job, by forestry tasmania standards
    a sheltered workshop with interesting ideas
    regarding sustainability, economics, use of public money and propoganda
    self entitled worlds best practice
    titled worlds best uneconomic unsustainable conjob

  15. Jack Lumber

    September 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Ted this is an excellent article and it provided some cogent points to discuss .

    Could you advise what have been the drivers for the loss of species as “colonization” is such a broad term a

    Are you suggesting that ” colonization should cease”? and maybe some form of restorative repatriation ??

    So was it agriculture /urbanization/mining /forestry /climate change/other that caused the loss of species ?

    This would be useful to understand ?

    Or was the intent of the piece to raise awareness but not have any practical solutions ?

    Kind regards
    Jack

  16. Ted Mead

    September 7, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    #2 – The Swift Parrots are probably going to be marginalised to predator free and Forestry excluded regions such as Bruny Island. Between the rampant woodchip industry and firewood collection impacts of felling nesting trees along the east coast one wonders if their number will ever increase again?

  17. Got Me Some Starlings

    September 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Only saw two swift parrots this year, three years ago we had a large flock that visited and hung around. I guess they have either gone elsewhere or gone to heaven.

  18. Christine Simons

    September 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Humans are so self-centred. When we believed in God, we were part of God’s creation, now we think we are the centre and the most important. If we could see ourselves as part of a larger, interconnected and mutually dependent web, maybe looking after other species and the rest of the natural world would make more sense.

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